The Power Of Laughter
“Laughter is the best medicine” a common phrase that most of us are aware of, but is there any truth in it?
Well yes, there is! We are going to be exploring the scientific benefits that laughter has on our bodies.
First, let’s look at what laughter is and where it comes from.
The first idea of human laughter can be traced back to our prehistoric ancestors where laughter would have been a gesture of shared relief between companions over the survival of passing danger. There would have also been laughter between companions to indicate trust and reassurance.
A key primal tool and one of the first building blocks of human society.
We understand the importance of laughter in todays society. We just love to laugh!
The average human laughs around 17 times a day, and we laugh more in the company of others than we do by ourselves, which adds weight to the idea that laughing is contagious.
There are businesses thriving in the laughter industry. Jokes, Comedians, Sit-coms. All designed to get us chuckling. Some programmes we watch include ‘canned- laughter’ to encourage us to laugh, once again, adding to the ‘laughter is contagious’ theory.
This is because people love to laugh, and to feel the way we do whilst laughing.
So what is the science behind laughing?
The science of laughing and the effects it has on our body is called ‘Gelotology’. Certain parts of our brain are responsible for certain responses and actions.
Gelatologists have discovered that the production of laughter is involved with multiple regions of our brain, specifically our Cerebral Cortex, the largest part of our brains.
Our frontal lobe, which is associated with our emotional and social responses, is very active during laughter. The left of the cortex analyses the structure and the words of the joke, where as the right cortex provides the intellectual analysis to understand the joke.
How does this affect our bodies and our moods?
The act of laughing itself, is a ‘funny’ one. Making strange giggling sounds, gasping for air, sometimes producing tears. But it is all linked to the muscles in our face and how they are working.
Laughing, just like smiling, activates the major zygomaticus muscles, that anchor your cheekbone, pulling your upper lip upwards and outwards.
A study conducted by Strack, Martin and Stepper, in 1988 involved participants holding a pencil between their teeth whilst performing a task to engage the zygomaticus muscles.
Half of participants were instructed to hold the pencil between their teeth, whilst the other half of participants were asked to place the pencil between their lips without touching it with their teeth. This forced their muscles to contract formulating a frown.
Both study groups were then given a series of cartoons to watch and asked to rank them in degree of humour.
As hypothesised, the study group who had the pencil creating a smile, judged the cartoons as funner than their ‘frowning’ counterparts.
They noticed that their moods were lifted and the study put this down to the blood flow to the brain caused by the act of smiling.
The act of laughing is also suggested to reduce stress hormones as well as increasing the production of B- Cells which produce disease destroying antibodies in our systems.
Let’s not forget the most important point of all. Laughter makes you feel happy. If you’re laughing it’s probably because you are enjoying yourself. You are relaxed and you are in a state of mind that is welcoming positive and pleasurable reactions. That in itself is reason enough to laugh more!
Figure out what makes you laugh and do it more often!
Marks Increase Your Happiness hypnosis is available to download.
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